We continue our tour of ghost buildings – meaning those dearly departed, not haunted – by tracking the jail and police station that occupied lots on West Main Street from the 1870s to the 1990s.
When Princeton incorporated as a village in 1865, L.L. Anjer was elected marshal. The basement of a wood-frame building moved here from St. Marie and later combined with another building to form the Hubbard House at about 443 West Water Street (today Princeton Garage Antiques parking lot) served as the village “lockup” and was envisioned as the courthouse when Princeton tried unsuccessfully to become the county seat.
Thomas McConnell, who founded the Princeton Republic in 1867, and his successors often cited bloody brawls on Cattle Fair Day and a few unruly saloons as evidence that Princeton needed a new jail to handle the local hooligans.
Princeton Republic, Dec. 10, 1870 – “At the Cattle Fair on Wednesday last, the poorest and meanest of fighting, whiskey and beer were dealt out in large quantities. The result was a scrimmage on a large scale. Some of our citizens thought they had been transmigrated to the ‘Fadder Land’ and they were doing it on the Rhine. The rind of some showed evidence of having something of a hard nature on it. About a dozen heads got mauled with fists, clubs and stones. Germany went in with a will and came out victorious. The melee was mostly at the west end of Water Street, although the fighting extended at times up the street. Some of the curious, in attempting to look on from a respectful distance, got down easily, from the effects of stones and clubs that were flying around loose. The lights of glass in G. Green’s store front went to pieces as if something was wrong with them. Neidt’s saloon front looked as if it came from Metz. Some twenty-five or thirty dollars will fix up Green’s glass, and time will cure the sore heads. But our village officers should see to it that such disgraceful rows do not occur again. Where are the peace officers? Where is the lockup? Just one year ago, we had about the same spectacle in our streets, only the buildings were not damaged so much. For the sake of decency, and for the good name of our village, we hope our authorities will take this matter in hand.”
The law-and-order crowd got their jail in 1876.
Princeton Republic, June 24, 1876 – “Wishing to see how work was progress on the miniature penitentiary now being constructed in the village triangle, ye editor retired to the spot to inspect the work. We found the edifice was rapidly nearing completion. As you enter the open door on the north side, you found yourself in an ante room about four feet wide and the full width of the building, in length. A wall of solid masonry a foot in thickness separates this from the rooms in the rear. These rooms are two in number and are on an equal size. Heavy iron doors swing on grating hinges and, through the bars of which these doors are composed, the future criminal gazes longingly out on the park and the street before him. We notice the oaken door has been used as a register by visitors, and that one, Burdick, has put his name down for cell number one. Number two has not as yet been secured. Chris Piper, who for years past has carried the Princeton lock-up in his pocket, smiles complacently as he sees a prison being constructed that will defy the most desperate of felons in burning his way out. The work will be done in a short time.”
Princeton Republic, July 15, 1876 – “The Princeton lock-up now finished, and night watch Joe Yunker is looking for a bird.”
Although it celebrated the lockup, the Republic raised questions about its location before it was completed.
Princeton Republic, June 10, 1876 – “Almost every man that drives into town asks why is that lockup being built in the public park? The answer is or ought to be: we have no pleasanter spot in town, and we want to do the best thing possible for the criminals.”
The scofflaws lost their scenic view in 1890.
Princeton Republic, May 1, 1890 – “The question of moving the lockup to a point in the village where its uncouth appearance would be less conspicuous is being agitated again. That park will soon be too fine to longer be disfigured by that stone pile, and it is a matter that appeals to the good taste of every inhabitant of the city to see that the monstrosity is taken out of there. Let the matter be talked up and agitated. The cost will be but minimal and the attractions of the park will be enhanced to an extent beyond any ordinary calculation.”
Princeton Republic, August 21, 1890 – “Tim Paull is wearing away that lock-up and the last vestige of the institution will soon have disappeared, moved to a locality more appropriate.”
The more appropriate, more discreet location was on Main Street, eventually a state highway!
With the lockup issue addressed, the Republic turned its editorial eye westward and urged the village to do something about the weeds and tall grass in the cemetery.
Paull moved the jail to the second lot west of the southwest intersection of Main and Washington streets, about 507 West Main Street, today part of the Gagne Ford parking lot. (A blacksmith shop and then service station occupied the corner lot for many years.)
The stone jail served as the local bastille until an addition was built onto the rear of another old stone building – City Hall, 432 West Main Street, built in 1867 as a schoolhouse and leased to the village/city for 99 years in 1884 – for the jail. The city sold the former lockup in 1922.
Princeton Republic, Sept. 28, 1922 – “Notice is hearby given that the city jail and jail lot will be sold at public auction to the highest bidder on Saturday, Sept. 30th, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon at the jail premises. Sale will not include the cells stationed in the jail. A.H. Rimpler, City Clerk.”
Princeton Republic, Oct. 5, 1922 – “The city jail was sold at an auction sale last Saturday afternoon. Emil Klawitter was the successful bidder.”
Klawitter converted the old calaboose into a two-car garage. Erich Reich, of Neshkoro, purchased it in 1936. He dismantled the building and used the material for a house he was building on Farmer Street.
The police station
According to the Sanborn fire insurance maps of Princeton, the jail addition to the former schoolhouse at 432 West Main Street was built between 1914 and 1927. It appears the jail was added to an existing brick addition, but I know nothing about construction and have not been able to find out when the brick section was built.
The jail was used until city police began transporting their arrests directly to the county jail in Green Lake about 1971.
Police operations eventually moved into a small wood-frame building just west of City Hall formerly used by the Princeton Power & Light Company, 434 West Main Street. I do not know when it was built or moved there. I have reviewed village board minutes of that era but thus far found no mention of it. The newspaper in the 1990s described it as a converted horse barn built in the 1800s.
The building does not appear next to village hall on the Sanborn fire insurance maps of Princeton (1892, 1898, 1904, 1914, 1927) until 1914 when the Princeton Power & Light Company used the building to display, sell and store supplies in the early days of electricity.
Residents could buy tungsten lamps, 25- to 250-watt, at the Herman Warnke furniture store on Water Street as late as June 1912 before the inventory moved to the building at 434 West Main Street. Prices ranged from 50 cents for the 25-watt lamp to $2.30 for the 250-watt lamp; 4-8-16 candle power carbons cost 20 cents each.
City officials moved the electrical supplies to the Main Street building prior to October 1914 and then to the Edward Bornick building on Water Street in May 1934. After the city’s electric department merged with the water department in 1936 and moved into the new waterworks building, the old frame building housed the justice of the peace court in the 1940s.
State law changes prompted the city to replace its justice of the peace with a municipal justice in 1961. After Fred Kannenberg, who had been the last justice of the peace and the first-and-only municipal justice, passed in June 1971, the city council abolished the municipal court.
Milo Bierman remodeled the little clapboard building next to the city hall/fire department building into the police station that served the community until 1996.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 9, 1995 – “The police station in Princeton is to undergo a facelift as part of the community service program. It will be painted as weather permits.”
Princeton Times-Republic, January 25, 1996 – “The Princeton police station was consumed by fire on Monday night. The call came into the fire station at 10:17 p.m. When the firefighters arrived, the fire was working its way into the office part of the building. It began in the wires above the breaker box and had gone through the wall that separated the records/supply room and the office. ‘If the door had been open between the two rooms, the building would have burnt down in no time at all,’ said firefighter Arnie Ross. The fire not only totally destroyed the wall and ceiling, but there was heavy damage to the total contents of the building.”
The police department moved into temporary quarters at the Stag Graphics building at 441 West Water Street (today Princeton Garage Antiques) as city officials debated potential long-term solutions. The old building was sold.
Princeton Republic, July 4, 1996 – “The old police station of Princeton was moved Friday. Even though it did not make it to its final place, it is gone from its spot next to City Hall. The building is now sitting in back of City Hall, waiting to be moved to Plainfield. Louie Schultz is moving the building to his property and will renovate it. He hopes to get it to as original as possible when it was built in the 1800s. The building was given to Schultz with the understanding that it had to be relocated. Having spent hours on the removal of the roof, Louie wanted to preserve the parts during the move. Schultz now has the roof in his yard and will be moving the rest of the building in the near future. The roof was removed because of the permit height limits and the height of the power lines in Princeton.”
City leaders ultimately decided to renovate a former gas station at the corner of Fulton and Dover streets on the east side for the new police station. (The building at 432 West Main Street today is used for public works storage.)
Princeton Times-Republic, March 30, 2000 – “It has been discussed back and forth for many months now, but it appears that construction may be imminent for a new police station in Princeton. Final plans are being looked over, and a tentative date to start construction has been set for May 15. Under the current plans, the station would be moved to the old gas station located on the corner of Dover St. and Fulton St.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 16, 2000 – “The Princeton Police Department was more than happy to open their Christmas present this year. They recently opened their new police station located at 531 S. Fulton St. The station, previously a gas station, was purchased by the City Council in 1999 and renovation of the facility began in June of 2000. Stodola-Maas, contractors out of Fond du Lac, renovated the facility for approximately $150,000.”
The facility included two interview rooms, a waiting area, small dispatch area, evidence storage room, restrooms, and a garage.
“It’s great we have a permanent facility now that’s more than adequate for our needs,” Police Chief Donald Metoxen said.
Law enforcement in early Princeton before it was incorporated as a village fell to the Pleasant Valley Township constable(s) and the Marquette County sheriff. When Princeton incorporated as a village in 1865, L.L. Anjer was elected marshal.
After obtaining a new charter in 1867 the village did not elect a marshal or constable again for nearly a decade. Princeton Township, meanwhile, elected three constables who served the town and village. Chris Piper, the village street commissioner, was a township constable for several of those years.
Princeton installed its first kerosene streetlights in June 1876. (Kerosene sold for 20 cents per gallon.) The village hired a lamplighter to re-light the lamps if they went out and to keep the chimneys from becoming blackened, which would cut off the little light they provided, and to serve as watchman.
The night watch duties included giving three strikes on the fire bell at 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. (until September 1, when the hour in the morning was changed to 5 a.m.) to mark the time and ensure everyone all was well.
Princeton Republic, Sept. 18, 1879 – “The lamplighter makes his rounds each evening, and the sober pedestrian can tramp home in safety.”
Princeton Republic, May 7, 1885 – “F. (Frank) Klawitter was appointed lamplighter, police and night watchman at $250 per year.”
Princeton Republic, Oct. 29, 1885 – “The night watchman has been reporting to the village board the number of hours the saloons have kept open after 11 o’clock p.m. The saloonists in turn have commenced watching the night watchman to find out how often he sleeps upon his post of duty, and claim they have ‘caught him napping.’ One thing is certain, there will be plenty of night watchmen if each saloon sends a patrolman out nights to watch the village guardian while us poor mortals take our rest.”
It seems the newspaper used night watchman, policeman and marshal interchangeably in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The board changed the “policeman’s” pay from fee-based to salary in 1909, for example, and noted the “marshal’s” duties in 1913 included ringing the curfew bell at 8 p.m. Jobs such as police and night-watch, bridge tender, cemetery sexton, and street commissioner were bid out in that era.
In addition to employing a night watchman, the village began electing a constable again in 1877 when voters chose Joseph Yunker, who co-owned a foundry here for several years.
Village constables (1877-1919): Joseph Yunker, M. Mulligan, C. Maulick, Fred Mittlestaedt, August Ponto, F.S. Merrill, A.P. Tyler, E.A. Warner, Christopher Ponto, Frank Klawitter, Michael Berger, Ludwig Schmidt, J.E. Hennig, Charles Ellinger, William Corenke, Emil Klawitter, Gust Dreger, Ed Falbe, Chris Ponto, Carl Worm Jr., Albert Polfuss, L.A. Merrill, Emil Fenske, James Mulheren, Carl A. Worm.
When the village incorporated as a city in 1920, the new charter created a chief of police position, which was filled by former constable Carl A. Worm. The city also elected two constables to assist the chief.
L.A. Merrill succeeded Worm in 1922 and held the police chief position until 1946. William Grahn followed Merrill. Elmer “Sam” Petrick defeated Clarence Gallert, Peter Marshall and Edward Roguske for the position in 1948.
A referendum in April 1948 asked voters whether they wanted to continue choosing the police chief or to let the mayor and council do that.
Princeton Times-Republic, March 25, 1948 – “Practically all cities and most villages appoint their police officers and are thus able to make their selection from the best available applicants. We all know what can happen under the present system. If we are lucky, we get a good police officer – maybe, and if not, it’s just too bad. Our police officer should be a young man and should receive a good salary so that the job will attract a good man. It should be more than just a night watchman’s job. Let’s start doing something about it by voting ‘yes’ for the charter amendment.”
Voters approved the referendum changing the city charter, 301-229. They also re-elected Petrick as chief of police and Jake Dugenske and Paul Hunt as constables. They would be the last elected to those posts.
Raymond Winiecki, who grew up on a farm outside Princeton and moved to the city after serving in World War II, became the city’s first police chief not elected by voters when Petrick resigned effective June 1, 1950.
Princeton Republic, June 8, 1950 – “At their regular June meeting, the Princeton common council confirmed the appointment by Mayor George Hamann of Raymond Winiecki as chief of police to take over his duties on June 16th of this year.”
In August 1950 the council granted the chief two nights a month off duty with pay.
Princeton City Council Minutes, Nov. 9, 1960 – “Chief of Police Winiecki appeared before the council and stated that his uniform was worn and that he needed a new one. Motion by Alderman Lese, seconded by Alderman Nowatski, that the Chief of Police be authorized to purchase a coat, two pairs of trousers, two shirts, and a Sam Brown belt. Motion carried.”
Winiecki, who also served as the city’s Civil Defense director, took advantage of training programs offered by the state throughout his 15-year stint here. He was enrolled in a 13-week course offered by the Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Department when he was selected by Gov. Warren Knowles to succeed Frank Leiske as sheriff of Green Lake County in May 1965.
Winiecki was making $325 per month plus $70 expenses as police chief when he resigned.
The city received three applications for Winiecki’s job. The council confirmed Mayor Philip Lehner Jr.’s nomination of Marvin Dugenske, who had operated a restaurant on Water Street for 18 years, on June 1. Dugenske never took office.
“Princeton Times-Republic, June 17, 1965 – “The City of Princeton is still without an appointed chief of police, and it appears things will stay that way until the next council meeting the first Tuesday of July. Both Chief Ray Winiecki and his assistant, Victor Lichtenberg, resigned effective June 15; that was Tuesday. At the June council meeting, Mayor Philip Lehner appointed Marvin Dugenske as chief, choosing from three applicants. Instead of taking his oath of office, however, Dugenske sent a letter to city officials stating his terms regarding salary. … The council took no action on the letter and allowed the normal ten-day period to elapse, which means that Dugenske would not be the new chief of police as was previously reported.”
Lichtenberg agreed to stay on until a new chief was in place and accepted the chief position in July. He served from 1965-1974. He was succeeded by Eugene Bornick (1974-1986), who was followed by Donald Metoxen (1986-2008).
The city added a second full-time police officer in 1971 to give the city day and night protection. At its peak the department had three full-time and two part-time employees.
Matthew Bargenquast was sworn in as Princeton’s ninth chief of police since it became a city and fifth since it became an appointed position in January 2009. At the time he was the second youngest police chief in the state. He remains on the beat in 2023.
Please let me know if you have corrections, suggestions, or photos to help tell this story. Thank you for caring and reading about local history.